How the captivity of the modern human alters running form

Don't get me wrong. On Running makes great running shoes.

But, I have to say, I'm a bit disappointed in the 2019 running analysis they posted to their blog.

And I wanted to share with KLE athletes and followers WHY.

While not all of their advise on how to correct your running form is bad, perfecting your running form is much more complicated than simply knowing you should, for example, keep your head high.

In fact, some of us are so DISCONNECTED from our mind and body that simple cues such as "keep your head high" often FAIL to produce a better running form without expert intervention and correction. Here's why:

Old injuries and our lifestyle can cause our brain to, out of necessity, create new, less efficient movement patterns and pathways. And when the most efficient movement pattern becomes compromised either due to an injury or as a result of our lifestyle (we do live in a sitting society, y'all, and we know that more sitting = tighter hips), our brain creates new, less efficient pathways to our body. These new pathways become the DEFAULT of our movement, until we resolve the compromised movement pattern and show our brain the old, more efficient pathway again.

So, here's the reality:

You may not be able to keep your head high because the movement pattern that allows you to do so while running has been compromised. And you can not correct this compromised pattern by just telling yourself how to do it correctly. You MUST resolve the problem first and then re-train your brain the old, better movement pattern. But, here's the BEAUTY of this: once the problem is resolved, you only have to show the brain the old pattern ONCE. At that moment, it's like a light bulb goes off in the brain. The brain, of its own genius, immediately remembers and reinstates the more efficient pattern as the default.

But, this isn't even the worst of the advise provided to runners in the running analysis.

On Running goes on to tell runners to "not worry about how your feet hit the ground." YIKES!

Now, to be fair to On Running, this is typical misinformation that is spread around about running form.

So, I'm here to tell you where your feet hit the ground IS important. It's important for your efficiency, it's important for hitting new PRs, and it's important for avoiding injury and pain.

I won't question their information that perhaps 90% of the population are heel-strikers, but this is NOT necessarily natural. Here's why:

Have you ever heard about the dolphin captive studies? Until more recently, we were limited to the study of dolphins in captivity. From these studies, we determined, in our limited scope, the average lifespan, habits, and the like of a dolphin. And it was from these studies that we determined it was completely "NORMAL" for a dolphin's fin to droop as they age.

But with developments in technology, marine biologist were able to begin studying dolphins in the wild. And what they discovered was quite profound at that time -- everything we thought we knew about dolphins in general was totally and completely biased. In fact, the ONLY thing we knew about the dolphin captive studies was what happens to dolphins in captivity. But until that moment, we used the limited information gathered from studies done on captive dolphins to dictate what should be considered "normal" for all dolphins.

While modern humans are not being kept captive and studied at SeaWorld, there are parallels between how we are studied by doctors and the conclusions they draw from those studies.

Remember earlier when I said we live in a sitting society?

This is the captivity of the modern human.

So, when runners who are held captive to this sitting society are studied, the results are BIASED to their lifestyle. This is a classic "correlation does not equal causation." All we can know from these studies is what happens to humans who live in a sitting society. BUT, those results should not just be automatically considered what is "normal" for running.

My proof:

Look at runners from Africa. These runners, for the most part, do not suffer from the same ills that we humans living in a sitting society experience. In fact, some of the best all-time runners are from Africa. Do Africans just have inherently better bodies than the average American? Nope!

Brian Loeffler of On Track Physical Therapy and Functional Training has studied the differences in running form between elite African runners and the rest of us. His conclusion? There is a BETTER way to run; in fact, there are two better ways to run. And we Americans have just lost that running pattern that we once held as young children primarily due to the lifestyle we lead as adults.

Better yet: we can overcome those compromises that have been made to our running pattern as a result of our lifestyle, and we can re-train the brain the proper running form.

And guess what? Heel-striking is not it.

Are you a heel-striker?

What do you all think about this?

Have you ever worked with a movement-based physical therapist to alter your running form?

Do you suffer from knee pain?